Encouraging Encouragement

encouragement, praise, love, charityIf there’s one single thing that all of us, no matter who we are, could stand to have more of in our personal relationships it is encouragement.  And this holds true no matter our socioeconomic status, age or occupation.  If we are alive and kicking then we need to hear and experience honest encouraging words from those around us.

And notice I said “honest” encouraging words.  Our encouragement must be genuine and heartfelt for it to be effective.  We might be fooled by empty flattery for a short time but once the truth is known those comments will have the opposite effect and in those cases it would have been better to have said nothing at all.  Encouragement should be real and true and however much thought or effort it might take it is always worth it.

Megan McArdle, a writer and columnist, wrote her 12 Rules for Life recently and rule 7 really had me sitting up and paying attention.  The full article can be found here and this is what she said:

Don’t just pay people compliments; give them living eulogies. Tell them exactly how great they are, in how many ways. Embarrass them. Here’s a funny thing I have learned by being just a little bit internet famous: it doesn’t matter how many times you hear them, the words “You are amazing, and here’s why” never get old. They do not go out of style. You will be wearing them to your 80th birthday party, along with a dazzling smile.

Although Mrs. McArdle’s article was not written from a Christian perspective it turns out that she is right on target with many of the things that she said.  After reading rule 7 I admit to coming under conviction by the Holy Spirit.  I realize that I am not the encouraging person that I should be and that I need to be far more expressive and intentional about telling the people around me just how amazing they are and why it is that I think they are amazing.  And do you know why that is?

It is because we have an enemy who spends 24 hours a day and 365 days a year telling believers that they are worthless and guilty and will never amount to anything for God and that they should just give up!  Our enemy is relentless in his assault on our family and friends and so we should be just as relentless in our kindness, love and encouragement to them.  We are commanded to bear one another’s burdens and we do that by opening our mouths (or putting pen to paper or pixels to screen) and communicating our concern and compassion and by testifying as to what God has done in our own lives.  By our witness we become the encouragement that someone else needs to make it through and to then become an encouragement to someone else.

While doing so we can also take Mrs McArdle’s advice and be specific and lavish in the types of praise and compliments that we give to our friends and family.  We need to be intentional in our encouragement and that means we think about it and plan it out a little bit before hand so that it is premeditated and purposeful. It is not the case that spontaneous encouragement is bad but that spontaneous encouragement should not be the only type of encouragement that we practice.  Intentional encouragement should go along with spontaneous encouragement and both should be present in our interpersonal relationships.

Will you join me in making a commitment to be a person who not only encourages others often but also encourages them in specific and intentional ways?  If so we can make a large difference for good and can bear fruit for the kingdom of God in our time.  I pray that we would all make that commitment and take the encouragement of our brethren very seriously.

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